Research Projects

Research in our lab focuses on hindlimb musculoskeletal functional morphology. We address questions related to function, evolution, and development of the hindlimb musculoskeletal system in primates and other mammals. 

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Cortical bone adaptations to leaping

This NSF-funded project seeks to 1) identify form-function relationships between leaping prevalence and hindlimb cortical bone properties in extant primates, rodents, and marsupials, 2) determine whether hindlimb bone strength increased convergently in leaping primates, rodents, and marsupials, and 3) analyze the evolution of, and adaptive shifts in, these measures of hindlimb bone strength across both living and extinct primate clades. Our results will have the potential to determine morphological convergence by linking locomotor behavior with bone strength properties of elongated hindlimb bones in leaping primates using a comparative sample of hopping rodents and marsupials. Until now, the lack of this knowledge has limited efforts to fully understand primate leaping, which is a behavior that was integral to the early evolution of the clade. Although it is generally accepted that the earliest primates were dependent on some form of leaping locomotion, how and when the primate skeleton adapted to selection for leaping behavior beyond external morphologies such as bone length is unknown. As a means for further augmenting our understanding of the evolution of primate leaping, the proposed project will use phylogenetic comparative methods to evaluate macroevolutionary patterns, adaptive shifts, and convergent evolution of leaping behaviors in a sample of extant and fossil Eocene primates.

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